Men Don’t Like Being Stereotyped Either

gender-stereotypesWhat always amazes me as a marketer is how often women are stereotyped in ads, especially ads targeting women as consumers.

Even crazier is what I call, “The focus group of one.”   This occurs when you talk to one woman and assume she speaks for all women.   Many times after a campaign fails, or even offends the target audience, the marketer’s response is, “Well my wife liked it.”  Or, “Our intern thought is was funny.”

Women are not a monolithic group and hate it when they are stereotyped.  They are especially bothered when one woman says something and people assume she speaks for all women.

Well guess what, men feel the same way.

Donald Trump set off a firestorm by claiming a tape of him talking about  making unwanted sexual advances towards women was, “Locker room talk.”  The defense put forth was that all men talk that way.

Men responded immediately.

Trevor Noah of The Daily Show let loose with a tirade against Trump’s remarks.  You can see the full video here.

Noah made an important distinction, “There’s a difference between sex talk and sexual assault talk.”

LeBron James also took issue that this is how all men talk in the locker room. “Those conversations don’t go on in our locker room.”

Other athletes have come forward saying that it is not normal to talk that way in the locker room.

Even members of Trump’s own political party finally distanced themselves from him by disagreeing with the “locker room” stereotype.

Do men talk about sex?   You bet they do.   But as Trevor Noah pointed out, there is a line between sex talk and sexual assault talk.

Noah made another important distinction when talking about Billy Bush’s role in the incident. “There’s a difference between laughing at a joke you don’t agree with, and being an active accomplice.”  He points to Bush’s behavior when he and Trump got off the bus when he immediately told a woman to hug Trump and asked her who which of them she would rather date.

Why breaking through stereotypes is so powerful

Stereotypes are based on common perceptions, some of which may be true.   But when we stereotype someone, we assign behaviors, motivations and values to that person they may not have.

As a gender researcher, I have found that many of the most effective ads break gender stereotypes. For one thing, those ads grab your attention.   For another, they allow you to connect to the person in the ad on a deeper level.

For example, if I were Nike, I”d be looking to find a way to take LeBron James’ comments about what men really talk about in the locker room and include it in an ad or marketing material.

If you are marketing to women, are you stereotyping women in your ads?  Find out by taking The Buchanan Test.   You’d be surprised how few ads can pass this simple test.

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